What was once a street dominated by cars is now a people-friendly laneway in the heart of Auckland.
The long-awaited opening of the Mayoral Drive end of Federal Street took place before dawn, and Boffa Miskell designers involved with the project joined Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Council staff, project collaborators and mana whenua to walk through the tree-lined, pedestrian-scale, community-focused shared space.
In his address to the crowd gathered for the karakia, Mayor Goff noted many elements of the transformed street, saying, “You can just look to the North and look down that beautiful laneway and you see near-mature native trees and you can imagine what they’ll look like in days to come.”
The pōhutukawa of St Matthew-in- the-City, once one of the only trees in the street, are now joined by – pūriri, tānekaha, rewarewa and white maire – some more than six metres tall, which have been planted along the western side of the 100-metre lane at the southern end of Federal Street.
Landscape architect Dave Parker has been responsible for landscape construction observation throughout the project’s year-long implementation, and was at the opening karakia.
“The masterplan and concept design for Federal Street and its side streets from Victoria Street to Fanshawe Street are about changes to street typologies and supporting greater opportunities for public life,” he says.
“This section of Federal Street, which is so close to the new City Mission HomeGround and St Matthew-in- the-City, goes on to connect with the section that ends at St Patrick’s Cathedral. The design narrative, which we developed in partnership with mana whenua, references ideas of compassion and community. Those ideas are reflected through the use of crushed shell, reclaimed basalt kerbs, and the many options for seating and shelter.”
Aucklanders can expect an inviting place to sit and relax, enhanced lighting to support the inclusive feeling of the area, and nine rain gardens filtering stormwater before it reaches the waterways.
Mayor Phil Goff says the Federal Street upgrade has delivered an impressive transformation.
“What was once a street dominated by cars is now a people-friendly laneway in the heart of our city, with trees to provide shade, places to sit and spend time, and upgraded lighting to improve safety,” he says.
This stage of the Federal Street upgrade, which began in early 2021, responds to the vision for a green city centre outlined in the City Centre Masterplan (CCMP), described as ‘a network of new and enhanced living green corridors, open spaces, walls, roofs and urban farms that are accessible throughout the city centre.’
The Federal Street upgrade is also part of the CCMP’s laneway network, a connected series of walking routes enabled by laneways, public squares and gathering spaces from Aotea Square to the waterfront – including St Patrick’s Square, Fort Lane, O’Connell Street, and Elliott Street.
Urban designer Stuart Houghton has played a key design leadership role in the CCMP, and says this latest stage of Federal Street works towards that bigger picture in multiple ways, with investment that will endure.
“As part of the Midtown Regeneration programme, this portion of Federal Street is going to grow into itself really comfortably,” says Stuart.
Midtown is the area that surrounds Aotea Square, taking in Auckland Town Hall and the Civic Theatre, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, the SkyTower, two universities, the laneway network including Federal, Elliott, High and Lorne Streets, and Myers Park and Rangipuke Albert Park.
Boffa Miskell’s current project work in the area includes the 4-Stage Federal Street upgrade, the Myers Park Underpass upgrade, the New Zealand International Convention Centre, and the landscape and street interface of City Mission HomeGround.
Design Firm: Boffa Miskell
Photography: Courtesy of Boffa Miskell